Sony unveiled its new high-definition DVD camcorders this week: the HDR-UX7E and HDR-UX3E. The camcorders use the Sony co-developed AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec High Definition) codec - designed for camcorders to store high-definition footage onto modest-sized storage mediums.
The HDR-UX7E and HDR-UX3E share a number of features, including being able to film at a maximum resolution of 1080i using 8cm DVDs.
The higher-end HDR-UX7E has a 0.59-inch ClearVid CMOS imaging sensor - ClearVid is a development Sony claims will help ensure your footage isn't jagged or prone to artefacts.
A new addition for this year's models is Sony's x.v.Colour. This is support for the xvYCC colour range - a standard being introduced to high-definition technology. It uses almost twice as many colours than the usual RGB range and can be used to display highly realistic images, using all the colours the human eye can perceive.
The HDR-UX7E comes fitted with a Carl Zeiss lens and packs in a 10x optical zoom, a 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD, microphone and headphone jacks - ideal for those who like more control over the sound on their footage.
It also supports Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound recording and has a 123,000 colour viewfinder - which can help preserve battery power if you use it instead of the touchscreen display.
The HDR-UX7E also comes with a manual mode dial mounted on the front of the camcorder. It controls focus, exposure and white balance, something that Sony hopes will be more convenient than flicking through the on-screen controls.
The camcorder can also snap 6.1-megapixel images, even while recording, and has optical image stabilization - to help keep the footage smooth and cut down on the out-at-sea effects.
Its little brother, the HDR-UX3E, packs a 0.33-inch CMOS sensor, a 10x optical, 80x digital zoom and a 2.7-inch LCD touchscreen.
While it only snaps 4-megapixel images, smaller than the UX7E's, it does support Sony's x.v.Colour and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound recording. Both camcorders can save stills on to Memory Stick Duo cards and Sony claims the batteries are good for five hours of filming.
A nice function on both models is the 200 frames-per-second slow motion feature. Slow motion footage will look less juddery and more natural when the filming frame rate is increased. Let's hope this feature works better than Sony's previous attempts at slow motion filming on an HD camcorder.
AVCHD DVDs can only be played on Blu-ray players , including the recently launched PlayStation 3 . But footage from the camcorders can be viewed directly on an HDTV through their built-in HDMI ports.
The HDR-UX7E and HDR-UX3E are available now, priced at £1,000 and £750 respectively.